DeKALB — Even after winning a Mid-American Conference championship last season, returning football starters are fighting for their spots all over again.
With the departure of former Head Coach Rod Carey and the arrival of Thomas Hammock, returning starters like redshirt sophomore quarterback Marcus Childers are having to prove they have a role to play in the new offense.
Childers said the players, new and old, won’t shy away from competition.
“We all embrace the grind,” Childers said. “We always want to get better, and the best way to do that is through competition.”
The former MAC Freshman of the Year threw for 2,175 yards to go with 15 touchdowns last season. This spring, Childers is in competition with junior Anthony Thompson, redshirt first-year Jiya Wright and Drake Davis, transfer first-year from the University of Illinois.
Childers said it’s not just quarterbacks competing, it’s across the board.
“There’s great competition between some of us,” Childers said. “I know in the quarterback room we have a big quarterback battle going on - same in the running back room. There’s just good competition everywhere.”
The backfield’s other half has also been highly competitive. Junior returning starter Tre Harbison, senior Marcus Jones and sophomore Jordan Neddles will be vying for the starting running back position.
With all new coaches and an all new system, Childers said the competition for starting positions is tougher this year than in the past. The quarterback said the competition makes everyone better because it forces everyone to up their game every day.
“With the new system we got put into, everyone has to learn it,” Childers said. “I know we’re all still trying to learn it and get the basics down. We’re making strides everyday.”
The competition for the starting quarterback position doesn’t end Saturday when the team plays its annual spring game. Ross Bowers, who is transferring from the University of California, is expected to join the team after the spring semester, according to multiple media reports.
Bowers started 12 games for the Bruins in 2017, throwing for 3,039 yards and 18 touchdowns. Bowers took a medical redshirt last season after reaggravating a thumb injury.
Childers said the locker room isn’t afraid of more competition, saying he wants to play with winners who can compete.
“We’re happy to have a new guy in the room,” Childers said. “We want champions. We want guys who want to play for us and want to get better. I can’t wait to see him get here and have a little fun.”